Get transported back to a time where a king ruled the country, marriage was the only viable future for a woman, slavery was acceptable, and fashion would be rockin’ an everyday look in a colorful hanbok. MBC’s newest period drama, Rookie Historian Goo Hae Ryung, looks to impress with its fresh story and narration of a society on the brink of change.
Set in 19th century Joseon, the story gives high regard to books and how the written word can impact the minds and hearts of a nation. It also sets up a premise where women will be given a chance to be employed as a historian: A government post with the job of recording/transcribing everyday life in the palace. This is a revolutionary event as only men are allowed to take the civil service exam and get a job as a historian.
Almost all Joseon dynasty kdramas have leading ladies that are cut from a different cloth — outspoken, single, beautiful, and don’t conform to society’s norms. Shin Se Kyung’s character, Hae Ryung, is no different as she is a clever and determined person who is perfectly content not being married and sneaking off to do book readings at night. This is not the 1st kdrama where I encountered women eager to read and listen to romance novels, it’s a nice consistency to know that a part of people’s hobbies back then was to read books (Even if they preferred the more perverted parts, haha🤭). Hae Ryung doesn’t like reading those cheesy novels though and prefers books with a radical plot instead (Ex. The main character dies in the end because he sacrificed himself for love).
A period kdrama is not complete without the presence of a King, a Crown Prince, the evil minions of ministers (Advisers of the King), and a brewing power struggle. Our leading man (Played by Cha Eun Woo), Prince Lee Rim, is the younger brother of the current Crown Prince and the 2nd son of the King. He is quickly revealed to be a famous romance novelist, under the pen name Maehwa, who wrote a book (“Moonlight Love Affair”) that every woman in the city of Hanyang are nuts about. I’m not too fond of his acting though because he just looks the same in every scene with his puppy dog eyes and cute smile. I hope he improves further in the succeeding episodes and can show more range especially when he needs to be angry or is feeling anguish.
I’m personally not a fan of Shin Se Kyung’s acting because I feel like her facial expressions are one dimensional as well. But I wanted to give Rookie Historian Goo Hae Ryung a chance since a new kdrama is a fresh start and as mentioned above, the plot for this seems intriguing. Her portrayal of Hae Ryung is more expressive than her previous roles and I hope that when she becomes a historian, her character will shine brighter. I’m already liking her tenacity and compassion towards other people who need help, even though she is a noble here and can have her way with anyone of lesser status, she definitely doesn’t act like one.
The first 4 episodes of Rookie Historian Goo Hae Ryung were delightful and eased us into the show’s story well. More than the romance, I hope that this kdrama gets to highlight woman empowerment and prove that women can work just as hard in a prestigious job. In an era that glorifies men and the supremacy of a King’s orders, I’m excited to see how Hae Ryung will effect change and fight for a woman’s rights to be seen, heard, and loved as an equal💁🏼♀️